Thanks to fabulous English teachers, my high school American Literature teacher in particular, I have a pretty firm grasp on the purpose of symbolism in literature. I read The Scarlet Letter my junior year of high school, and though I haven´t picked up the book since (nearly 20 years ago- eek!), I still have vivid memories of the seemingly endless discussions of symbolism that accompanied the reading of the book. I remember the behind-the-teacher's-back discussions with friends about whether or not Hawthorne intended all of that darn symbolism or if we were reading too much into his words (yes, this is really what nerdy kids talk about- Mom, you really shouldn't have worried about me). The Great Gatsby is another American lit read chock-full of symbolism, and upon multiple readings as an adult, I have decided that Fitzgerald intended every last bit of symbolism to be interpreted as such in that Great American Novel. I do not intend to write you a literary analysis of either or any text, however.
Symbols are everywhere, from the obvious heart to the less-obvious infinity symbol, to the even-less obvious semi-colon (not used as a punctuation mark). I recall seeing the semi-colon as a non-punctuation symbol for the first time on social media; some people get semi-colon tattoos as a powerful symbol of hope.
Several weeks ago I revealed that I stepped outside of who I thought I was (before surgery) and got a tattoo. The design presented itself before I even considered getting a tattoo. I saw a picture of something similar to what is now inked on my right shoulder and I thought, "Wow, that needs to be part of me." Only then did I consider getting a tattoo. If you've been reading, you've seen my partial tattoo reveal. Well, here is the whole darn thing:
Yep, I'm a librarian with a book tattoo. This book really comes to life, no? Those pages are really flying! If you know me IRL (in real life) you probably couldn't come up with a more perfect tattoo for me. If you know me IRL, you've probably already seen this. Note the final bird isn't just a nondescript bird silhouette, it's an owl. This is my nod to my Harry Potter Obsession. The owl is Hedwig. Right about now some of you are chanting "Nerd! Nerd! Nerd!" or wondering why I defaced my right arm like so. Well, yes, I'm a nerd. And I happen to like my tattoo, and I don't really care if you don't! It's easily covered up for job interviews and public photo ops! Not that I really care in either of those situations, either!
So, I have a symbol tattooed to my arm. I love it. Would I have considered this 18 months ago before my illness? I don't know, honestly. That's not me anymore. I can't separate out my illness from who I've become. While it's doubtful I'll ever be thankful for having had a giant pancreatic tumor, I appreciate that I'm here and that I have the freedom to choose at least some of my scars (the tattoo, duh).
When I see it my tattoo, I really do see it as a work of art. It is the one and only scar that I got to choose. (I have at least 6 from my Whipple.) However, there's this fantastic book with a really awesome raven silhouette on the cover...